Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nature and Science Books

Recommended Books from Young Years Library: Mother's Guide to Children's Reading by Rachele Thomas, Parents' Magazine's Press, 1963. {LOC 63-15865}

Young Years Library was a five or 10-volume anthology of reading material for children. The product evolved over the years, but generally it was sold direct to parents who wanted to provide an educational or literary advantage to their children. Many of the great children's librarians of the day were involved, including the pioneering Augusta Braxton Baxter. My copy, published in 1963, includes a 72-page list of recommended books for various ages and stages. To my eye, many of these books have long since been forgotten, not least because of the revolution in children's literature that took place following the publication that year of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I'll be transcribing the sections of the Mother's Guide to Children's Reading reading list, one by one, in hopes of providing a starting point for modern mamas looking to explore more unusual, likely out-of-print book suggestions, beyond those usually included in generally available contemporary reading prescriptions. Copyright, of course, remains with Home Library Press.


Plants and Animals

A wealth of information about dinosaurs and how modern scientists learn about these reptiles that have been extinct.

All about Eggs and How They Change into Animals, illustrated by Helen Ludwig. W.R. Scott.
Good introduction to the facts about how life begins.

All Around You, by Jeanne Bendick, illustrated by the author. Whittlesley.
A good how-and-why nature book for the very young.
The difference between alligators and crocodiles, where they live and how they get their food.

Bits That Grow Big: Where Plants Come From, by Irma E. Webber, illustrated by the author. W.R. Scott.
The facts—simply stated—about seeds, their growth, and how animals and people depend on plants for food.

Cottontail Rabbit, by Elizabeth and Charles Schwartz, illustrated by Charles Schwartz. Holiday.
Interesting story of the role a cottontail rabbit plays in nature's food-supplying life cycle.

Egg to Chick, by Millicent E. Selsam. International Publishers.
What happens to the egg from the time it is laid to the breaking of the shell and the emergence of the chick.

Frogs and Polliwogs, by Dorothy Childs Hogner, illustrated by Nils Hogner. Crowell.
What a frog is and how it develops from a polliwog, including information on toads and salamanders.

Gives an understanding of these two important insects and thereby provides basic knowledge of life processes.

The Insect World, by John Pallister, illustrated by Sylvia Slayton. Home Library.
A fine introduction to entomology. Among the many full-color drawings of insects, there is a section showing insects in various phases of activities—feeding, fighting, mating, etc.

Let's Go Outdoors, by Harriet E. Huntington, illustrated by Prentiss Duncan. Doubleday.
A fine introduction to the tiny creatures that live outdoors. Other titles in this series are:
     Let's Go to the Brook
     Let's Go to the Seashore

Nature Detective, by Millicent E. Selsam, illustrated by Theresa Sherman. Scott.
Stories of animals, the tracks they make in snow and wet sand, and what the nature detective can find out from animal tracks.

Intriguing experiments with plants which lead to a good understanding of natural phenomena.

See for Yourself, by Nancy Larrick, illustrated by Frank Jupo. Dutton.
Explains how to do many simple experiments with air and water.

A fine portrayal of the structure and life of many kinds of spiders.

Describes the many animals a child may find in the vicinity of his own home.

Tiger, by Roger McClung, illustrated by the author. Morrow.
The fascinating process of a caterpillar emerging from his egg, growing becoming a chrysalid, and finally appearing as a beautiful full-grown swallowtail butterfly. A companion volume:
     Luna: The Story of a Moth

The fascinating methods plants use to scatter their seeds far and wide.

A practical guide to collecting fresh-and-salt-water animals.

White Wilderness, by Robert Louvain and the Staff of the Walt Disney Studio. Golden.
Animals of the Arctic presented in words and photographs.

A simple guide book to the world of nature.

The World of Dinosaurs, by Edwin H. Colbert, illustrated by George Geygan. Home Library.
An introduction to prehistoric animals, beautifully illustrated with paintings that recreate the environment and animals of that age.


A simple, concise introduction to the science of archeology.


The True Book of Oceans, by Katherine Carter. Childrens.
An explanation of simple terms of many of the ocean's phenomena.

Wonders of the Living Sea, by Carlton Rey, illustrated by Oscar Liebman and full-color underwater photographs by the author and other specialists. Home Library.
An introduction to marine biology and oceanography.


Hurricanes and Twisters, by Robert Irving, illustrated by Ruth Adler, and with photographs. Knopf.
Where the most destructive storms come from, how they arise, and what they are capable of doing.

Weather and Climate, by Julius London, illustrated by George Geygan.
An excellent introduction to meteorology, with very practical information on weather and weather forecasting.

Science Experiments, Electricity, Chemistry, the Atom

How to use magnets for fun and magnetism, with many magnet tricks, and a simple, clear discussion of electricity and magnetism.

Experiments with Electricity, by Nelson F. Beeler and Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by A.W. Revell. Crowell.
Describes intriguing experiments and gives their scientific explanations.

Answers the question: “What is electricity?” and discusses its uses.

Fun With Chemistry, by Mae and Ira Freedman. Random.
Interesting experiments—all safe—that illustrate the basic principles of chemistry.

A fascinating study in relative size.

How science crops up everywhere, with illustrative experiments that children can perform.

Presents a clear understanding of a basic principle of physics.

What are atoms? How do they form compounds? How is atomic energy used to generate electricity and run engines? These questions are answered simply and directly.

A fine introduction to what goes on in the skies and what lives on the earth, with simple experiments that children can carry out.
Easy-to-perform experiments dealing with magnetism, gravity, sound and other physical phenomena.

Astronomy, Space Travel

A Book of Moon Rockets for You, by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by L. Kessler. Crowell.
An exciting description of how men will explore the moon.

An accurate explanation of satellites, how messages are sent from them back to earth, and what we hope to learn from these far-reaching messages.

How man will travel in space, the clothes he will wear, how we will build a space station and explore other planets.

With this excellent star-gazing guide, the whole sky is transformed into one mighty picture book.

The Golden Book of Astronomy, by Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames, illustrated by John Polgreen. Golden.
The facts about the moon, stars, and planets in a big-book format.

Guide to Outer Space, by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by George Geygan. Home Library.
A beautiful book that can be a real help to a child's understanding of the new science frontier.

A clear, informative handbook on astronomy.

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